29 June 2013

What You Find While Cleaning

     While cleaning out the garage, mom found this photo.  It's one I've never seen before, and is of my Grandaddy, Roy Albea Sr, with his fellow employees at Overnite Transportation off of Moreland Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia.  The photo is probably from the early or mid 1980s.

     So, can you spot Grandaddy?

27 June 2013

Time to Suck It Up and Say 'Goodbye' To Old Search

Old Search
     Today the genealogy community got news that has long been expected: Ancestry.com is getting rid of Old Search.  They sent out an email to those of us who are part of only "2% of our subscribers that use the old search function."  Ancestry will be transitioning into an updated version of New Search, which I guess will soon simply be "Search."

     In an apparent attempt to make the transition easier, as well as to improve the functionality of the lone search function, Ancestry is asking users of Old Search to respond to a survey.

New Search
     I was certainly disappointed to hear this news, but at the same time, I knew that this had been coming for a long time.  Part of the problem is that when New Search first came out it was terrible - I mean terrible!  There have been a lot of improvements over time, and the search has certainly been improved.  But at the same time, I've never really had a need to use New Search, since Old Search does everything that I need it to do.

    Considering things, I use Old Search because it works.  It's not the prettiest, but it simply works.  I tell it to do something, and it does it.  Also, the way I search (start with a broad search and drill down into specific data collections and there add collection specific search criteria) is perfect for the way Old Search is organized.  Also, I'm used to Old Search; it's simple, traditional, comfortable and fits me well.

     New Search... works...  After many updates, the current version of this search does get me the results I want, though I feel like it takes more work and takes up more space.  I feel like New Search is an attempt to make Ancestry.com flashier and help users find records they weren't necessarily looking for.  I do believe that Ancestry.com wants to help their users.  The only thing?  I don't necessarily want their help!  There's a large learning curve to adjust to New Search, and there are a ton of filters, search boxes and preferences (that don't always stay set).  Talk about overwhelming.

     In the end, I need to look at this situation practically.  I knew this was coming, so I'm trying to not dissolve into a fit of whining and complaining.   I will offer Ancestry.com my feedback, but can only hope for the best and make the best of the situation (even though I'm not happy with it).  

25 June 2013

6 Years Old

     Today is my 6th Blogiversary! It's amazing how time flies and how things change.  I started this blog as a way to log updates to my, now defunct, family tree website.  When I discovered the geneablogging community, I moved to Blogger and started to connect with other genealogists.  I can't even begin to count the ways in which writing a blog has helped my genealogy research, so I won't bother.  But suffice to say that I'd have missed out on a lot of different kinds of opportunities.  So on this sixth anniversary, I want to say thank you to all the other bloggers and genealogists involved with social media; I wouldn't still be doing this without you.

20 June 2013

Scrapping for the New Little Leaf

     We're only about three weeks out from adding a new little leaf to the family tree, by way of my first nephew.  It's getting exciting around here and, of course, I'm integrating genealogy into the anticipation.  I've been working on my brother-in-laws tree some more, but wanted to make something specifically for the little guy.

     My sister had decided to make a home-made baby book: a 12x12 scrapbook filled with pages made by friends and family.  I've made a few pages for her, but it occurred to me yesterday that I'd missed something: a family tree page!  I used a stamp kit my mom gave me at christmas to create this page (I'll do one for my brother-in-law's family too):

     I'm not sure if the page is finished yet.  Should I add some grass or little animals?  Either way I think it turned out nicely.

16 June 2013

Dad Remembers the Atlanta Crackers

     It can be hard to get family stories out of my dad; I can't really ask him specific questions, rather, he has to share his stories as the memories come to him.  The other day, while we were watching the Atlanta Braves get stomped by the San Francisco Giants, he threw this tidbit out:
"I remember going to an Atlanta Crackers game once."
     For those of you (all of you?) not in the know, the Crackers were Atlanta's minor league team in the first half of the 20th century, before the arrival of the major league Atlanta Braves (formerly of Milwaukee).

     Dad couldn't give me much more information, except that he was young enough to mostly just remember enough to remember that he went, that they were playing at their own stadium, Ponce de Leon Park (as opposed to Atlanta-Fulton County, where they played their final year), that he got lost and was fussed at, and that he went with a kids' team, likely his older brother Gary's.

     When it's all typed up and combined with information I can find online about the team and Ponce de Leon Park Stadium, it actually fills out a pretty good picture.  Based on what I've found out, he would have attended sometime between 1960 and 1964, when he was 9 years old.  And every time I hear a story like this, it gives me one more connection to a place and time in history.

     I mean, just imagine this little boy enjoying his first game of professional baseball:


05 June 2013

A Guardianship Question

     I found this document on FamilySearch.org in alphabetized Estate Records for Elbert County.  I'm confused by it and hoping someone can provide some insight.

     I'm reading that John Craft Sr is being made guardian of John Craft Jr and Willis Craft, sons of John Craft Sr.  Is this record giving guardian ship of a father to his sons, or are there two John Craft Seniors? Where John Craft Sr is named as the father, the words "late of said county, deceased" are crossed out, indicating that he is alive.  But why does a father need to be named guardian?  This record is in the Estate Records; is he becoming guardian of property they have inherited?

03 June 2013

Beta Testing Ancestry.com's New Shoebox App

     A while ago, Ancestry.com put a notice on their Facebook page, looking for anyone interested in beta testing a new app.  A few days ago, I received an invitation to try out this new app, called Shoebox.

     In the words of Ancestry.com, Shoebox is designed as a way to "quickly scan your paper photos, tag people in your family tree, and add important historical information like dates and places. You can also share your photos with family and friends."

     I downloaded the app to my iPhone, but it's also available for Android phones.  I found the app to be quick, clean, and intuitive, though missing a few features.

     It's easy to figure out: you take a picture of a person, object or old photo, tag it to a person in your family tree, add a few details, and you're done.

     What Works?

  • You can upload photos already on your phone, or take new photos.
  • You can easily switch between multiple trees on your account.
  • The app has an intuitive cropping tool, or you can turn off cropping.
  • You can tag faces in the photo and instantly add the photos to the appropriate people in your tree.
  • Your photos are stored in the app in an attractive scrolling view.
  • I have not experienced any crashes.

     What Doesn't Work?

  • If you don't have an Ancestry.com family tree, there's no point to the app.  This is not a bad thing, but simply something to keep in mind.
  • There is no way to rotate your photo to horizontal if the app sees your photo as being vertical. Suggestion: Add a rotation tool.
  • There is no way to edit photos taken with the app (so you might want to take them with your phone's camera and import them). Suggestion: Add basic photo editing tools such as brightness and contrast
  • There is no way to sort the photos stored in the app. Once you have a few dozen photos, there's no way to find a specific one. Suggestion: Add a search tool, that will search tagged faced and information from the descriptions.
  • Tagging is inconsistant.  I've uploaded three photos, each with two people; only one person ends up with a saved tag. Bug.
  • Once you've saved a photo, you cannot edit it again. 
  • You cannot access any photos in your tree that you did not add using this app.
     The last two bullet points go to my major complaint about this app: it's a one-trick pony and doesn't really stand on its own. I don't know why they created an entirely new app for a feature that should have simply been added to their existing Family Tree app.  For the most part this app does work very well, but then again, it doesn't do much.  It's an upload tool, but I would expect it to also be an editing tool.  I can see myself using it a bit if I have photos on my phone that I want to add to my Ancestry.com tree, but I can also see myself forgetting that it exists.  

     Here's a scenario that I'd love to see with an app like this.  You're visiting a relative and taking photos of old photos that they own using this app.  You upload them to your Ancestry.com tree and tag the appropriate ancestors.  You then review other photos already on your tree.  Your relative provides additional information, maybe identifies an unknown person in a group photo, and you can then edit the photo to add this information.  Right now you can't do all of that with this app.

     The Shoebox app is brand new and still in beta, so there's hope yet.  I hope that Ancestry.com takes the suggestions of its testers and adds more features or even combines it with their Family Tree app.


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